There are people who try to make changes in their lives, who try to do a spiritual or moral housecleaning. They know that things aren’t the way they ought to be, and they want to get things right.
But the irony is that some people, in their attempts to clean up their lives, end up in a worse state than where they began.
Jesus talked about how we can make lasting changes in our lives as we undertake a thorough housecleaning. He was speaking to the Pharisees, who were the religious, moral, and outwardly upright people of the day. Yet Jesus had warned this group about committing the unpardonable sin, which was blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
He said this because they had attributed the works of God that He was doing to the devil. Specifically, they accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. So He warned them of going too far and actually blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
He was saying that knowledge brings responsibility.
Jesus went on to explain, “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43–45 NLT).
Jesus was referring to demonic powers in this passage. Demons are both real and powerful. And in this passage, it appears that the person who once was possessed by this unclean spirit had a housecleaning. Things were put in order to some degree. It would appear the person had made some kind of moral change.
To understand this in context, we must remember that Jesus was speaking to moral, religious people who didn’t really know God. Jesus was comparing the human life and heart to a house. And He was saying that morality won’t save us. Religion won’t save us.
Jesus was giving us a picture of those who make moral changes in their lives but don’t get to the root of their problem, which is the absence of God in their lives. The sins they commit are but symptoms of a deeper problem: the lack of Jesus Christ living inside them.
People will make changes in their lives for many reasons. Sometimes when they face a crisis, they begin to evaluate their priorities and take stock of their lives. They determine what needs to change.
But often the same people end up going back to their old ways. Why? Because the house is swept and put in order, but it’s still empty.
We must not lose sight of the basic truth that morality, in itself, will not bring a right relationship with God. Morality never will bring spirituality. But true spirituality always will bring morality.
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